Friday, February 26, 2010

One YA Author's Thoughts for Book Bloggers

It amazes me how fast things change in publishing. No, I'm not kidding. I know people talk about the dinosaurs of traditional publishing and rage against older methods and mentalities, but stuff is changing even for traditional publishers.

And book bloggers are proof of that.

Book bloggers didn't really exist until very recently. Heck, my generation didn't even have access to computers when we were school-aged (except to create very basic programming loops on beasts better used as anchors than computers). And no, I'm not ancient.

From my perspective, book bloggers have burst onto the publishing scene and you all are changing EVERYTHING. You guys are EVERYWHERE and very diverse.

If I'd been published for the first time about five years ago I probably wouldn't have even considered doing an online blog tour for my book's release. But now? I'm prowling book and writing blogs to see who has a different audience of followers. I'm weighing popularity and professionalism and trying to figure out where I fit in.

I've contacted book bloggers who say they like to do author interviews. I've contacted some with chat rooms they're willing to drag me into. It stuns me how many options there are for online or virtual visits with people. (And it stuns me how many book bloggers have responded with stuff like "of course I know who you are!" and "I can't wait to read your book!")

You book bloggers have some amazing powers of persuasion at your fingertips.

You can impact an author's sales by giving them what equates to airtime. You show our cover and our blurbs and people take notice.

You can build egos and break hearts.

And although lots of authors may not be traipsing around to do interviews online right now, I think doing such will only become more popular.

So book bloggers, I encourage you to do the following:

1.) Contact your favorite authors and ask them for an interview.
2.) Build a base of author interviews to complement your book reviews. Make them easy to find on your site.
3.) Approach reviews professionally. Use tact (and good grammar). If you absolutely despise a book that's your right as a subjective reader, but do your best to clearly define the issues you had so your followers can make a good choice themselves.
4.) Brand yourself (well, your site). Make sure you're distinct somehow. Book bloggers are popping up all over--what will make you stand out in the crowd?
5.) Do some of those memes like Waiting on Wednesday and Teaser Tuesday and Trailer Thursday. They'll help you build connections (and a regular schedule).
6.) Connect and complement with other book bloggers, but don't cannibalize eachother. This goes back to you making your site distinct (even when doing memes).
7.) Use site "common sense" like:
  • Keep your site design clear and clean and easy to use.
  • Keep your blog posts brief (I know, I know, it's an example of "do as I say, not as I do").
  • Use hyperlinks to connect you into a stronger web.
  • Use tags, labels and phrases people may search for.
  • Get a "Delicious" account and bookmark all your posts.
  • Find affiliates that complement your site but don't duplicate your efforts.
8.) Make your expectations of authors and blog guests clear.
9.) If you're doing interviews, come up with distinct questions (we authors see questions about our inspiration pretty frequently--ask what you or your followers really want to know).
10.) Post your reviews more places than just your blog (it'll build your reputation and show you're a serious reader--possibly getting you more access to ARCs).
11.) Educate yourself (there are conventions and conferences--did you know?!).
12.) Get to book readings and signings to meet authors in person (and hand them your card so you can connect for an interview later).
13.) If you're only starting out with a book blog, think about ways you can help promote visiting authors' interviews so there's no doubt as to the value of being a guest at your site.

And don't be afraid to ask questions. Recently I was especially impressed by one young blogger who will be interviewing me soon... Here's a link: It thrills me when people are willing to reach out and ask questions. And she did it beautifully with the inclusion of the cover and link, too. She may not have planned it, but she's actually raising awareness of my book already. And I appreciate that.

I think the growth and increasing professionalism of book bloggers and reviewers will create an impressive new dynamic for publishing--and I'm looking forward to seeing what our joint future holds.

Take care, gang!


~Jennifer~ said...

This is fantastic advice! I started book blogging without realizing there was already an established community to get involved with or the possibility that authors would even be remotely interested in interacting with me.

If you present yourself professionally and follow up on what you promise to do, I've found authors are usually as excited to work with you as you are with them. It's a win win for everyone involved.

Shannon Delany said...

Thanks, ~Jennifer~, I agree. If you present yourself professionally all sorts of opportunities will open up for you. Relationships between book bloggers and authors can definitely benefit both parties.

Thanks for commenting!

Jessica Kennedy said...

What great post!

It's awesome to read an authors perspective on what we bloggers do. It takes time to present ourselves and to be recognized for it makes a difference.

The only thing I fail at is author interviews. I honestly can not think of questions to ask authors that aren't the usual ones. :( I'm not that creative!

DJ said...

Thanks for the great advice! I just started my blog and I'm still trying to make it interesting and "unique". It's nice hearing what an author thinks of book blogs. :)

Jessica Kennedy- I, too, have problems coming up with unique/creative questions. What I've started doing is looking at other blogs and seeing what kind of questions they ask. Maybe that'll help you too?

Shannon Delany said...

Hi Jessica and DJ!

I think coming up with creative questions for author interviews can work hand-in-hand with your blog's identity or branding. Jennzah over at the newly named Rockin' Bookshelf is going to integrate her love of music and reading more fully and slip musical stuff into author interviews.

Think about what draws you to books in the first place: are you very attached to characters or do you love amazingly deep worlds or kick butt action or twisting plots? That may help you focus and then you can think about questions related to those things to ask authors.

Good luck!
PS--DJ, good idea to check out other blogs. Seeing what they're doing (even beyond questions) will help you figure out what works and what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Lauren said...

This is such an interesting post to read, and it's given me a lot to think about. I've never heard of 'Delicious' before so I'll have to look into that.

I have also never done an author interview, mostly because (a) I'm shy about contacting people I don't know and (b) I've read a lot of dull interviews and I hate the thought of doing them badly. I think I'll need to give interviews a lot more thought before I get to them, but this post is definitely food for thought. Thank you!